Owner of Karma the 'Dangerous Dog' Facing Charges for Criminal Assistance, Harassment in Lewis County Superior Court

Oct. 29—A Chehalis woman is facing charges of rendering criminal assistance in the second degree and harassment after an alleged incident where a minor in her care harassed and killed a cat and a second where she posted a banner facing her neighbor's property that read "payback is a bitch," according to court documents.

On Oct. 25, she was summonsed to Lewis County Superior Court. A hearing has not yet been scheduled, but likely will be within three to four weeks.

Rebecca Nichols, 81, was recently at the center of a Chronicle news story about her rottweiler, Karma, that had been labeled a "dangerous dog" by the Lewis County Dangerous Animal Designation Board and was euthanized after Nichols failed to comply with rules in order to keep her.

Lewis County Humane Officer Alishia Hornburg worked with Nichols for several months to bring her into compliance due to the 81-year-old's advanced age, the recent loss of her husband and Hornburg's belief that Karma was a manageable pet that was designated dangerous only after her previous owner's irresponsibility.

But after the Lewis County Sheriff's Office responded to an incident on the property on Sept. 7, Hornburg's leniency with Nichols quickly reached an end. A neighbor, Corey Owens, provided a video of a minor in Nichols' care who "had a cat on a leash and, as evidenced by video footage, was seen dragging the cat around and slamming it to the ground," according to court documents. A medical examination on the cat showed it suffered a broken neck, causing its death.

Considering the child's age, The Chronicle is choosing to withhold the minor's name. Charges are likely to have been filed in juvenile court, but the public does not have access to those records.

During informational gathering for a story on the case of Karma the dog, Owens called The Chronicle to report what he'd told the sheriff's office. He said he'd been in combat during service, but watching this incident was chilling in a way unlike anything he'd witnessed.

When an officer responded, Nichols claimed the cat was still alive, but that she was unable to locate it at the time, court documents said. She was reportedly "evasive in her answers" and continued to glance in the direction of where the responding deputy eventually found a black plastic bag containing the body of the dead cat. When confronted with the discovery of the body, documents said Nichols admitted to placing the cat in the bag.

Hornburg was present during the deputy's response and reported seeing Karma outside Nichols' six-sided enclosure — which is a requirement for dogs designated as dangerous. That violation provided cause for the county's seizure of the dog. Hornburg's eyes flooded with tears as she recounted driving Karma to the shelter before the dog was set to be euthanized.

"She was a sweet girl," Hornburg said.

The rottweiler was ruled dangerous after one incident chasing horses and another where a cat was bitten and significantly injured. Her owner at the time claimed her companion dog, a husky named Lobo, was the primary aggressor in both situations and that Karma had only been following his lead.

On Oct. 7, law enforcement responded to the residence again after the neighbor reported Nichols allegedly hung the profane banner facing his home. The two neighbors have had multiple expired protection orders between them, according to court records.

Documents stated that given the history between the two, the sign was believed to be a threat.

In the early 2000s, Nichols and her husband, Wayne Nichols, made national news for a case near Brothers, Oregon, where the two had neglected a herd of 128 horses. Before that, they'd made previous appearances in headlines for a similar case in Thurston County in 1995, where the couple submitted a plea deal and relinquished most of their herd, as reported by the East Oregonian.

To read The Chronicle's coverage of the story on Karma the dog, visit https://www.chronline.com/stories/karma-the-dog-chehalis-womans-dangerous-pet-set-to-be-euthanized,301234.